Joseph Chmelynski

Joseph Chmelynski, an officer with the Bethel Park Police Department, responded to a call from neighbors of a burglary in progress on March 5, 1948. Arriving at the scene, he encountered Edward DiPofi and John R. Wilson in the unoccupied home.

While handcuffed and being escorted to a police car, DiPofi used a gun concealed in his waistband to shoot Chmelynski and shoot another officer, George Kercher. Chmelynski died four days later.

DiPofi and Wilson fled. Police set a trap for DiPofi at his home on March 6. When two men approached the home, police opened fire with a submachine gun. The two men, a police officer and a passerby, were wounded.

DiPofi and Wilson were apprehended later that same day, when a suspicious taxi driver alerted police he had just dropped off the suspects at DiPofi’s mother’s house.

Wilson pleaded guilty to murder and received a life sentence. DiPofi was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. He was executed on January 9, 1950.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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